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Tooth Whitening
















What causes teeth to become stained?

Teeth vary greatly, and many people have teeth that are naturally dark or yellow in colour, and can darken further with age. Staining can, however, occur as a result of certain foods such as curry, drinks such as coffee or red wine, and nicotine from smoking. Discolouration can also occur from rarer causes, such as tetracycline antibiotics being taken whilst the teeth are still developing.


How can teeth be whitened?

This often depends on the type of staining you have:

  • Surface stains - these stains can be removed with simple whitening toothpaste, or a scale and polish by your dental hygienist. More stubborn stains may be removed with special jet cleansers.

  • Deep stains - these stains have worked their way into the structure of the teeth, so cannot be removed by simple means. Professional treatment uses peroxide to penetrate the tooth surface and bleach the deep stains.

  • Other stains - stains such as those that are inherited or caused by medicines such as tetracycline may not respond to the above methods, and veneers may be needed to cover the stained teeth.


How is bleaching performed?

A technique called 'internal whitening' may be used if only one tooth has been discoloured - bleach is used inside the tooth to whiten it in two or three visits.

In 'external whitening', your specialist will thoroughly clean the teeth, using a 'scale and polish' to remove surface stains. A gel is then applied to the stained teeth and a light tooth whitening can remove stainsused to start the whitening effect; the whole process takes about an hour. You may find that your teeth feel quite sensitive after the treatment, although this should settle within a day or two.

Alternatively, 'bleaching trays' may be used, which are thin transparent PVC trays that are worn over the teeth at night or for two hours during the day. This is for between 3 and 8 weeks, and can give a long-lasting effect.




Other SurgeryWise articles

You may also be interested to read our articles on Bridges, Crowns, Dentures, Implants, Tooth straightening, or Veneers



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